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Public statements

    May 02, 2019

    Spokespersons available to take media interviews

    Responding to the Uganda Communications Commission’s decision to order 13 radio and TV stations to suspend their news editors, producers and heads of programming, over “incitement” and “misrepresenting information”, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Sarah Jackson, said:

    “This order from Uganda’s communications commission represents a blatant attack on press freedom and a lamentable tendency towards state censorship. The Ugandan authorities must immediately rescind this decision and end the harassment and intimidation of journalists and media houses. Journalists must be allowed to freely do their job.”

    Background

    May 01, 2019

    Authorities in Arkhangelsk Oblast (north-western Russia) have clamped down on peaceful protest against the construction of a dumping site with arrests, bans and heavy fines.

    On 7 April 2019, activists protesting against a landfill site construction project in the locality called Shyes planned a rally at Lenin Square in the centre of the regional capital Arkhangelsk. Regional authorities banned the protest claiming that a sports event was scheduled on that day at the square. They proposed a venue in a remote part of the city far from traffic or official buildings. The protest rally still took place in the original location and thousands of Arkhangelsk residents peacefully marched through the city centre. Police were present but did not intervene. No sporting event took place there at the time.

    April 22, 2019

    The shocking Sunday morning bombing attacks targeting churches and hotels in three cities in Sri Lanka resulting in more than 290 deaths and leaving more than 500 people injured, is yet another grim wake-up to the intolerance and hatred surging through societies across the world, Amnesty International said today.

    “Amnesty International stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in its time of grief and we extend our deepest sympathy to the victims, to their family, friends and communities. Our hearts go out to all the people of Sri Lanka and we call on the authorities to ensure truth and justice prevail to defeat this senseless violence. These horrific attacks are yet another reminder that all of us needs to take a unified stand against hatred,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    March 27, 2019

    AMR 34/0128/2019

    Amnesty International is concerned that the authorities are continuing to impose unjustified obstacles and restrictions on the work of human rights defenders in Guatemala.

    On 22 March 2019, the authorities made public criminal charges filed by the President of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court of Justice against the human rights defenders Claudia Samayoa, President of the Board of the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA), and José Manuel Martínez Cabrera, a member of the Justicia Ya collective. The two defenders were accused of illegally obtaining a copy of a decision issued by the Court on 9 January. This decision, which was also circulated on social media and in the media, was the basis of a complaint filed on 17 January 2019 by the two defenders against members of the Supreme Court of Justice, including its President.

    March 26, 2019

    Amnesty International joins others here today in welcoming Vanessa Rodel and her daughter to Canada as refugees resettled through private sponsorship.  It is a happy end to a search for safety that began when Ms. Rodel fled from the Philippines in 2002; and took an entirely unexpected turn in 2013 when, along with five other asylum seekers in Hong Kong, including two children, she was drawn into the effort to provide support and shelter to Edward Snowden. Mr. Snowden was, of course, being actively sought by US authorities for having publicly leaked documents showing the massive extent of US surveillance practices.

    Ms. Rodel, her daughter and the other five individuals have been at risk in Hong Kong ever since that time.  Joining with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International approached the Canadian government nearly two years ago, in May 2017, urging that private sponsorship applications that been filed for their resettlement to Canada as refugees be approved. 

    March 21, 2019

    Amnesty International welcomes the Federal Court decision on 20 March 2019 striking down the 36-month Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) bar for refugee claimants from Designated Countries of Origin (DCO) on constitutional grounds. The court found that the bar violated Section 15 of the Charter, the right to equality and non-discrimination.

    DCO claimants are those whose country of origin is designated by the Minister as a country that is less likely to produce refugees. There are currently 42 countries designated as a DCO, including Mexico, which continues to face an unrelenting human rights crisis in such areas as violence against women, disappearances and torture, and Hungary, where there are well-documented cases, including by Amnesty, of persecution of Roma people.

    March 15, 2019

    The horrific attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which shooters killed 49 people and injured at least 48 more, is a devastating reminder of the consequences of letting hatred and demonization go unchecked, Amnesty International said today. The organization’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said:

    “This is one of the darkest days in New Zealand’s history. The attackers who unleashed their deadly hatred and racism upon women, men, and children as they took part in Friday prayers has thrown us all into shock and grief.

    “This is also a moment of reckoning for leaders across the world who have encouraged or turned a blind eye to the scourge of Islamophobia. The politics of demonization has today cost 49 people their lives. Reports that the attackers followed a white supremacist manifesto must galvanize world leaders to start standing against this hate-filled ideology.

    February 12, 2019

    In advance of Saskatchewan Court of Appeal hearings on February 13 and 14, in a case brought by the provincial government of Saskatchewan challenging the constitutionality of the federal government’s carbon pricing system, Amnesty International underscores that regardless of constitutional disagreements, federal, provincial and territorial governments equally share binding international human rights obligations to take urgent and effective measures to address climate change. Constitutional arrangements are no excuse for inadequate or delayed action.

    February 07, 2019

    Across Canada, Amnesty International supporters remember and honour Paul Dewar today as a passionate and fiercely committed human rights champion with whom we worked closely on many cases and campaigns. In political life and since, Paul was always unswerving in his advocacy efforts, be it with respect to concerns about the rights of Indigenous peoples, national security laws and gender equality in Canada, or global determination to help free prisoners of conscience, push for effective measures to tackle major human rights challenges like the trade in conflict minerals, and respond to pressing human rights crises in all corners of our world.  And always, what was most important to Paul was to lift up and learn from individuals and communities at the frontlines of human rights struggle, in Canada and around the world. Paul is already deeply missed, but his legacy will live on in the many thousands of people whose lives he touched and whose activism he inspires. As he urged us in his farewell message, we will “keep building a more peaceful and better world for all.”

    February 07, 2019

    A report on staff well-being at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International was released on January 31, 2019.  The report had been commissioned by the movement’s previous international Secretary General in the wake of the tragic suicides of Amnesty International colleagues Gaëtan Mootoo and Rosalind McGregor in May and July of 2018.

    In the words of our current global Secretary General, Kumi Naidoo, the findings in the report are deeply troubling, particularly to hear employees “speak of a culture of secrecy and mistrust where discrimination, bullying and abuse of power have been condoned.”

    In responding to the report Kumi Naidoo has committed to moving Amnesty International’s organizational culture “towards more compassion and respect” as a priority. Under his leadership, and in consultation with staff at the International Secretariat, an implementation plan is being developed as a matter of urgency, to be presented by the end of March 2019.

    December 20, 2018

    Amnesty International has taken the decision to pull the magazine Glamoria and the organization apologizes unreservedly for its publication.

    The magazine, produced by Amnesty International Netherlands, was in extremely poor taste and entirely at odds with our values and objectives as a global human rights movement.

    It is clear that the magazine trivialized the suffering and trauma refugees have experienced fleeing their homes, particularly women. We realize the images also compounded sexualized gender stereotypes that harm and objectify women, specifically women of colour. We are conscious that the use of life jackets as a prop was particularly hurtful to people who have depended on these for their survival. We are profoundly sorry for this.

    Amnesty International Netherlands never intended to offend anyone and deeply regret the choices that were made in relation to this magazine. They realise this has been a mistake and has distracted from the urgent need for action to end the dire situation for many trapped on the Greek islands.

    November 13, 2018

    Amnesty International will intervene to argue for the right to challenge the legality of immigration detention

    Amnesty International, alongside other human rights organizations, will intervene at the Supreme Court of Canada on November 14, 2018, in a landmark case on immigration detention, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness v Chhina.

    This Supreme Court case is about the basic right of immigration detainees to challenge the lawfulness of their detention by way of habeas corpus – a constitutionally protected right derived from the common law to impose a check on the power of the State to deprive individuals of their liberty. Amnesty International will argue that Canada is under international legal obligations to guarantee immigration detainees this right.

    October 05, 2018

    Amnesty International condemns the conviction on 3 October of activist and artist Seelan Palay, who was sentenced to two weeks’ imprisonment after refusing to pay a fine of SGD 2,500 (USD 1,800), for holding a piece of art outside Parliament in 2017. The organisation considers the conviction a violation of the right to freedom of expression and calls for the quashing of the conviction and sentence.

    September 21, 2018

    Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcome on Canada

    Amnesty International is disappointed that Canada’s response to its UPR, while containing welcome commitments, does not commit to substantial advances and primarily confirms initiatives already underway.

    Canada reiterates that a protocol and stakeholder engagement strategy are being developed to coordinate implementation of international human rights obligations across federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions, but offers no concrete plans or timeline to ensure these urgent reforms advance.[1]

    Treaty ratification commitments appear to have weakened from previous announcements about moving to accede to the Optional Protocols to the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This response states there is no decision yet regarding accession.[2]

    August 09, 2018

    Responding to the nomination of Michelle Bachelet as the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Isha Dyfan, Director of International Advocacy at Amnesty International, said:

    “Michelle Bachelet’s nomination comes at a tumultuous time for the human rights community. As we approach the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the freedoms enshrined within it are under sustained threat around the world. 

    “Brutal and protracted conflicts are raging in many countries, while a rising tide of authoritarianism is undermining the human rights standards many have long taken for granted. It will take a strong and principled leader, willing to speak truth to power and ready to mobilize resources and political will, to defend our rights in this challenging climate.

    “We look forward to cooperating with Michelle Bachelet to advance the broad human rights agenda of her office, including strengthening the OHCHR itself upon the General Assembly confirmation.

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